Tag Archives: family friendly

A volunteer’s story




Barbara Davies wrote this article about her trip to the Kids in Museums award ceremony for the Totnes County High School Reunion Association Newsletter 2014.

Barbara (second from left) is a much valued volunteer at the Museum.


Telegraph Family Friendly Museum winners 2013


“Last September I was very honoured to be asked to be one of the representatives of the Brixham Heritage Museum at the Sunday Telegraph Awards ceremony. For the second year running our museum was in the top six of their Family Friendly Museum – Kids in Museum list. We left Paignton at 5.30 a.m. on the London coach and arrived at Victoria coach station just in time for coffee. It was only a short walk to the Sunday Telegraph office, where we were greeted most warmly and were able to meet the other finalists and some previous winners of the award. When it was time for the formalities to begin, the six finalists were listed in alphabetical order and we were told that because it had been so difficult to choose, for the first time ever there were two winners. The first museum was The Horniman, in London and my heart sank! (I thought – alphabetical order – B comes before H – we’ve had it for this year.) The second winner was Brixham Heritage Museum. We had done it! We had to make acceptance speeches of course, whereupon my mind went totally blank and I think that I waffled my way through something. (Nothing new there then)! I know I was quite emotional and not just because I shook hands with Philip Mould from the Antiques Roadshow who presented the awards. After a buffet lunch we were shown round the Telegraph offices and then it was time to leave for home. Our coach left Victoria at 4.30 p.m. and due to diversions and heavy traffic, it was 6.30 p.m. before we reached Gatwick. Instead of getting home at 10.00 p.m. it was 11.15 p.m. before we could get in the car for Brixham, home and bed after a very long but enjoyable day.”

Brixham and the Dartmouth floating bridge




Today there are two ferries across the River Dart but originally there was a single “floating bridge” built in 1831 in Plymouth and owned and run by Sir H P Seale local squire and owner of much land in the area. Apart from the advantage of providing pedestrian access across the Dart the company had the responsibility of transfer of Royal Mail goods and letters from Kingswear to Dartmouth and back. This contract was poorly written and in 1830 forced the owners to run the service even at a loss and it became a millstone to the Seale family. Eventually in 1855-56 when the service was inoperable due to the ferry sinking at her Sandquay moorings in a storm the company declared itself bankrupt.




A group of dissatisfied tradespeople, including my ancestor from Brixham Thomas Lakeman, accused the company of failing to meet its obligations and issued a writ. The end result was that Thomas Lakeman with others took the company over. The old ferry was stripped and rebuilt and returned to service as “Floating Bridge No 2” and launched on 16th October 1856 and brought into service on 31st October. This was much lighter than its predecessor and had a steam capstan replacing the horse and crossed the river in seven minutes. Sir H P Searle and Thomas Lakeman were business rivals and the business venture appeared to be a propaganda exercise with the end result not being a great financial success. In 1867 the first steam ferry was introduced with the business then becoming more financially long term secure.

Terry Lakeman

We are winners of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2013!


Telegraph Family Friendly Museum winners 2013

The proud winners of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2013 with Philip Mould trustee of Kids in Museums.Brixham Heritage Museum representatives Louise Cresswell and Barbara Davies on the left. (Photo courtesy of Telegraph newspaper).


Brixham Heritage Museum is one of the most family friendly museums in Britain.

Undercover family judges have crowned Brixham Heritage Museum the joint winner of the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award alongside The Horniman Museum and Gardens (Forest Hill, south London).

Both museums beat 140 entrants nationally to the coveted top spot for providing outstanding and stimulating experiences for the whole family.

The winners were announced on Friday 13th September at a ceremony at the Telegraph’s offices in Buckingham Palace Road, London. Brixham Heritage Museum sent two representatives: Louise Cresswell and Barbara Davies.

Dr Philip L. Armitage, Curator of the Brixham Museum, said: “We are extremely honoured to be a winner of the Telegraph Family Friendly Award, and especially delighted given that our museum compared with others shortlisted is very much smaller in scale. Despite our modest size, the part-time staff and dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers aim to ensure visiting families have an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Receiving this award judged by the families themselves is a very much appreciated accolade for all the hard work the museum has put in to provide family friendly facilities.”

Tina Mansfield is one of the mums who helped judge the award. She said: “The museum stands out for two reasons. First, the people are really friendly and dedicated and second, the children know that they can play and touch things without worrying that an adult will disapprove. To begin with, my seven-year-old son Ethan thought we were going to a stuffy old museum, but it didn’t feel like that at all. He really enjoyed it.”

Brixham Heritage museum has developed its offer to young children over the past few years through the Mini Museum Project. The project, co-ordinated by the museum, focuses on teaching young children about Torbay’s heritage through a range of early years activities such as mini digs, storytelling, trips and guided walks to sites of local historic interest.

The project is being delivered by Torbay Childminders in partnership with Brixham Heritage Museum, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Torquay Museum and Torbay Council, which contributed £1000 towards the scheme.

The council’s Executive Lead for Culture and the Arts, Councillor Dave Butt, said: “The minimuseum project is a fantastic way of inspiring young people so they can develop, learn and make sense of the world around them whilst having fun. Our museums play such a huge role in encouraging a love of history so it can be enjoyed and protected for generations to come.

“Brixham Heritage Museum is doing such a fantastic job engaging families and I’m so pleased it has been recognised with a national award. It is a tremendous achievement.”


Shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award – Again!


Our Museum has done it again – we have been placed in the top six of the Telegraph National ‘Family Friendly Museum’ Award! We managed to reach the top six last year, which was surprising considering we were a very small minnow in a very big ocean of national museums, and after even greater efforts to offer something for everybody, we find to our great delight that we have managed it again this year!
We are to be road-tested by under-cover families over the summer and the winner will be announced in early September, so we will continue to offer our usual friendly welcome toour visitors, with a few new attractions since last year, such as the opportunity for children of different ages to do an indoor archaeological dig in sand, to press Devon dialect speech bubbles, to note new ‘out of place’ items and to take information leaflets about prehistoric Brixham which are free to all visitors.
Everybody calls us a “Tardis” but we are a Giant amongst Family Friendly Museums.
Ms Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums, comments:
‘Once again Brixham Heritage Museum has made it to the shortlist of the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award. The judges were astonished at the great community feel and huge amount of imaginative work for families coming out of a small museum. Families testified to what an impact the museum had had on their lives, from exciting days out to leading to their children studying archaeology at university. Every square foot of this small museum works to make the lives of local families richer, more informed and more fun.’

For further information please contact
Mrs Lesley Smith
Brixham Heritage Museum
New Road

Napoleonic Activity Day


Here is a  selection of photographs from our Napoleonic Activity Day which took place at Berry Head on 27th May. The event was aimed at youngsters from toddlers  up to 12 years of age.












Special thanks must go to our  ‘pancake ladies’ Janet and Jackie for all their hard work keeping the troops fed!




Torbay Young Carers Go Digging


Twelve young Torbay carers had a change from their normal routine when they took part in an archaeological dig with museum staff at Berry Head on April 3rd.

All the young carers are under the age of 18 and all have caring responsibilities for a parent or sibling. This dig was their first session with the museum but we hope that they will be joining us again for flint knapping and bootcamp later in the year.













A Fishy Encounter at the Mini Museum


Children at the mini museum were treated to a morning of mermaid magic at Berry Head on 3rd August.

Melody the Mermaid entertained  the children and childminders with stories and craft activities based around the sea and lighthouses.


Melody the mermaid entertains the children


Melody entertains the children


Mini Museum – Napoleonic Bootcamp



A mini army assembled at Berry Head on Monday 9th July…



The mini army was ably assisted by the  Cornish Regiment re-enactors…





Thirty children attended…



…but there were equal opportunities for all!


There was plenty of musket practice and drill.



Not all of the volunteers were ‘mini’!



A big thank you to Janet Petit, museum volunteer, who made over thirty pancakes for the regiment and children.




Brixfest 2012 – Napoleonic Bootcamp


Sunday 3rd June 2012 – Marching, musket drill and cooking at Battery Gardens…













Family Friendly Museum Award – The Final!


On Thursday 31st May, Lesley and Louise attended the Awards Ceremony at the offices of the Sunday Telegraph for the presentation of certificates to the TOP 6 Family Friendly Museums, as judged by Kids in Museums.

We were very proud to reach this level, having been selected from hundreds and then from a short-list of twenty, in the judging as our Museum was a very tiny minnow in a sea of much bigger fish.

The winner was Haslemere Educational Museum, Sussex, to whom we send our congratulations.

During our visit we were told that we would receive the feedback from the families who judged us, so we will study their comments with care, and armed with other background information gleaned, we will return to the fray, hoping to be the absolute finalist next year!